Back in 2015, Archie Andrews and his gang were official re-imagined for a new TV series called Riverdale – the fun-loving flirtatious teens were now murderous, drug-running occultists. In what wasn’t even the show’s weirdest twist, they put Archie Andrews in a sexual relationship with his teacher Miss Grundy.
Jughead is a zombie?
This is just one of the notable changes Archie’s gang has undergone in recent years. It began in the comics back in 2010 with the introduction of Archie’s new gay friend Kevin Keller, who was then paired off via a same-sex “marriage” to an Iraq War veteran. Other changes have included:
- Jughead Jones declaring himself asexual
- Veronica Lodge starring in a spin-off comic as Vampironica, a blood-sucking killer
- another spin-off series, Afterlife with Archie, featuring a zombie Jughead trying to kill and devour his friends and family (with some success)
- yet another spin-off series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, featuring more occultism and a character by the name of Madam Satan
What’s tricky about all these changes is that in the comic digests this “new Archie” is often paired with “old Archie” stories. So sometimes the outside of the comic looks just like it always has, but inside a handful of the stories will have this “modern” twist.
Old Archie is better but has problems too
Parents who grew up reading the old Archie comics might be shocked at this new direction, but before we ask “Why were the former days better than these?” (Eccl 7:10) let’s remember rightly the Archie of old. I came across a few of my old Archie digests and, looking at them with adult eyes, I was struck by something: Archie was never a paragon of virtue.
At best “America’s favorite teenager” could be described as an indecisive boy who led girls on (poor Betty!). But would it be a stretch to describe a guy who secretly dates two girls at the same time (sometimes on the same night!) as a player?
A frequent storyline involved Betty and Veronica vying for Archie’s leering attention by wearing as little as the Comic Code Authority would allow. This was every timid teenage boy’s dream – two bikini-clad gorgeous girls after a goofball guy. As the comic’s creator, John Goldwater explained, he reversed “the common wisdom. Instead of ‘boy chasing girl,’ I would have girl chasing boy.”
While sexual tension and romance were a constant theme, nuptials weren’t mentioned – not for more than 60 years. In Archie’s world dating was simply a social activity, completely unrelated to finding a spouse.
Archie and his pals had a lot of laughs and adventures too. But the subtext to the series was always dating, dating, and more dating and it always got that wrong, wrong, wrong. Now the new TV shows and comics are getting it wronger still.